Physics teacher Nicholas Gillies named Teacher of the Year


Annika Pepper

Nicholas Gillies (middle) has been announced as this year’s Teacher of the Year for Starr’s Mill High School. Gillies teaches physics and AP physics.

For the 2019-2020 school year, Nicholas Gillies has been chosen as the Starr’s Mill Teacher of the Year. 

Every year faculty nominate teachers and voting continues until the finalist is chosen. Being selected is considered big honor.

[Gillies] has grown our AP physics program every year and added a third AP physics course this school year due to the demand from students.”

— Principal Allen Leonard

Gillies teaches physics and AP physics. He is also the head of the Fireside Physics Club.

 “We have an unofficial organization called Fireside Physics where students come after school and discuss topics that they read about that are beyond what we cover in class,” Gillies said.

Gillies has taught for 17 years with this as his fourth year teaching at the Mill. Prior to teaching at Starr’s Mill, Gillies taught at Kendrick Middle in Clayton County, then Luella High School in Henry County before moving to the south metro area. 

Gillies attended Auburn University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in secondary science education. He was certified with his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Central Michigan University.

His passion for science and Physics helped inspire him to become a teacher.

“It just interests me and it’s everywhere around me,” Gillies said. “I had a good chemistry and physics teacher.”

His desire for teaching physics has not gone to waste. 

“Mr. Gillies is an exceptional teacher who deserved to be selected as Teacher of the Year,” Principal Allen Leonard said. “He has grown our AP physics program every year and added a third AP physics course this school year due to the demand from students.” 

I never push [my students] further than what I believe they are capable of doing.”

— Physics teacher Nicholas Gillies

Gillies is still a fairly new teacher to the Mill but his actions have not gone unnoticed. Others are mindful of how Gillies’ actions positively affect those around him.

He is engaging with faculty members and students,” Leonard said. “He presents students with interesting and challenging learning and leads them to meet those challenges.”

Being a physics teacher is not just his specialty. A key principle that Gillies has is his method of teaching.

“I think it’s just that I hold [students] to a high standard academically, but also I never push them further than what I believe they are capable of doing,” Gillies said.

Gillies is honored to receive this award but was shocked by the announcement. His reaction was genuine, but he remained humbled with the results.   

“I was surprised when I first saw my name on the ballot just because of the number of high quality teachers here and to be chosen as one of the few,” Gillies said.

Although Gillies has been part of the Starr’s Mill family for a short time, he has had a major impact on his students and his colleagues.